Opinion

The green industry and safe digging  

The UK government is placing significant investment in the decarbonisation movement in a bid to ‘Build Back Better’ and kickstart the economy. Here, Richard Broome, MD at LSBUD, the UK’s leading online safe digging resource, explains what this means for safe digging practices in the sector and why they are more important than ever.  

Richard, MD at LSBUD

The UK government’s plan to drive growth beyond the pandemic is rooted in infrastructure investment. And a key focus for this infrastructure growth is decarbonisation as part of the UK’s net zero objectives. 

In order for the UK to achieve net zero in the next thirty or so years, its power system will need to be virtually carbon-free. It will also need to be larger to handle added demand from electrification in transport, heating and some industrial processes. 

It goes without saying that a larger system will require serious investment in network infrastructure. With this in mind, it’s abundantly clear that the volume of digging work relating to the energy sector and renewable projects is set to rise considerably in the coming years.

We anticipate: 

At least £1.3 billion being invested in the electric vehicle (EV) charging structure

Investment into the UK’s power networks to ensure the infrastructure does not hold back the transition to electric vehicles, cleaner sources of heat and greater renewables on the grid 

The annual investment in the energy sector to be £20 billion plus per annum 

The government is clear that speed is of the essence which sounds great in principle, but the speed of delivery often undermines important protocols and ends up with corners being cut. This could in turn lead to serious issues being encountered.

Safe digging is a must

As the number of infrastructure projects increases, so does the volume of excavation work. This means that there is a greater need than ever to ensure the digging work is being undertaken safely. Whilst we all want to reap the benefits of a jump-started economy immediately, we mustn’t hamper our future selves by not thinking about the implications of a major upswing in activity.

With more decarbonisation projects set to take place than ever before, the chances of someone hitting an underground pipe or cable increase, especially as time pressures creep in. This can’t happen. Performing a quick and easy asset search before a digger bucket hits the ground must remain part of all organisation’s safe digging practices. This is not only imperative for the health and safety of our workers, eliminating unnecessary risk onsite, but it also keeps projects on track.  

There are also financial consequences for companies to think about when an asset is struck. The pipes and cables will obviously need to be repaired, but beyond this, there are indirect costs, such as traffic disruption and loss of custom to local businesses which must be factored into the final bill. All very costly, especially as a free, two-minute search is all it takes to help make sure the route or area is pipe and cable-free. 

In summary 

There is good reason to be excited about the decarbonisation movement. But the industry can’t afford to get carried away and overlook the importance of safe digging practices. They avoid major health and safety incidents, reduce delays onsite, facilitate more contracts and tenders being won, eliminate huge bills to pay and stop damage to the reputation of businesses.  

The UK must go green, but it must go green safely. All involved in infrastructure projects must search before they dig.  

To find out more about LSBUD visit www.lsbud.co.uk